Lessons from the silver screen

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I finally had the chance to see “The Amazing Spider-Man,” starring Andrew Garfield (“The Social Network”) and Emma Stone (“Easy A,” “The Help”). Hollywood continues to cash in on comic book stories, and I was hoping to see a “Spidey” flick done right – because there’s nothing like a good dose of Stan Lee-inspired escapism mixed with awe-inspiring action sequences.

The action delivered. The acting was great. There were a few plot advances that seemed out of whack, but for the most part, the writing was decent. In the end, “Spider-Man” didn’t feel like a typical comic book movie.

How did the film distinguish itself from the likes of “Iron Man” and “The Avengers?”

Peter Parker – Spidey himself – was flawed in a much more human, relatable way than any of the other super heroes battling on the silver screen or on TV. Those that like the Robert Downey, Jr., driven “Iron Man” films probably enjoy seeing the protagonist act like an uber-rich, arrogant, criticism-proof celeb-u-hero. I know I do, but I can’t relate to that.

What I can relate to is the new Spider-Man’s ability to make real mistakes. Yes, he gains new found power, and he can do what he wants – but that doesn’t mean he knows how to do things right. It takes him time to learn, which leads to the audience not always liking the decisions he makes.

When the masked hero finally gets things right, it all comes together splendidly.

What’s even more special about this movie, in comparison to the glut of other stories ripped from DC and Marvel, is the familiar emphasis on how every decision a single person makes impacts other people’s lives. In the movie, Spider-Man’s decisions have extraordinary consequences, but in real life, the actions we take probably make a little bit less impact more often than not.

Even if that impact was marginal, wouldn’t it be great if it was a positive one? The answer to that question is the big take-away from the flick, and one that I hope resonates with other viewers. It certainly did with me.

 

As always, come chat with me during my “office hours” at the Starbucks on 116th Street off of I-69 from 3 to 5 p.m. on Tuesdays.


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